REUTERS

The Council of the European Union has decided at the level of foreign ministers on a three-pronged approach to relations with the Russian Federation.

Vice President of the European Commission, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell announced this at a briefing after a meeting of the Council of the European Union at the level of EU foreign ministers.

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"There is a shared assessment in the Council that Russia is drifting towards an authoritarian state and driving away from Europe," Borrell said.

In particular, according to him, the foreign ministers of the EU member states unanimously interpreted that the latest actions by Russia and responses indicate a clear signal that it is not interested in cooperation with the European Union, but, on the contrary, it [looks] interested in "confrontation and disengagement from the European Union."

In this regard, the foreign ministers on Monday, February 22, decided on a three-pronged approach to relations with Russia.

In particular, the EU will "push back when [Russia] infringes international law and human rights."

The second area of interaction between the EU countries is designed "to contain when [Russia] seeks to increase pressure on [the EU], including through disinformation and cyber attacks," and the third is "to engage when and on issues where we have an interest in doing so," he said.

Previous developments

  • After his visit to Russia in early February, Borrell said Russia was uninterested in a constructive dialogue with the EU. He said the Russian authorities did not want to use his visit to Russia to establish a constructive dialogue with the EU.
  • Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Russia's readiness to sever relations with the EU.
  • On the day of Borrell's visit to Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry declared employees of the diplomatic missions of Sweden, Poland, and Germany as persons non grata because of their participation in rallies in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Poland, Sweden, and Germany responded by expelling three Russian diplomats.
  • On February 11, Borrell stressed there would be no normalization of relations between the EU and Russia without the fulfillment by the latter of the Minsk peace deal on Donbas.